5 Takeaways: why and how businesses should be using their own products

It seems almost a cliché to say that one’s business is committed to quality; after all, the products and solutions offered by tech companies form the foundations of both work and leisure in the modern world, and customers have come to expect rock-solid quality assurance.

Yet one critical approach can often be overlooked by organisations: using their own solutions for their infrastructure and business operations, ensuring that all employees are familiar with the nuances of the solutions their company offers, both positive and negative.

As an Asian company that has achieved global acclaim for our products, Synology has identified five key takeaways that we feel were critical in our success, and how other companies might do so:

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1. Identify how your products can be used in your own business

Synology’s commitment to the quality of our products is at least partially built on a foundation of using our own products for almost all of our business’s IT infrastructure, allowing the organisation to collect feedback from all of our workforce – from IT to HR.

Aside from quality assurance, one huge additional benefit is that our sales, marketing and support teams are very familiar with the company’s products since they’re using those solutions on a daily basis.

This might seem like a basic first step, but does require the investment of time and resources to conduct an intense scrutiny of an organisation’s infrastructure and processes, from both business and operational leaders. This might even spark some additional ideas about how your products could be further refined to better fit into businesses.

For example, to name just a few, we use our products for the following critical business functions: storage for virtual machines; backup and recovery; collaboration and messaging; surveillance; and disaster recovery.

2. Be open to constructive feedback, both internal and external

A company’s products are often a labor of love from its employees, and this emotional investment might result in them being resistant to feedback, whether it be from customers or from their colleagues. The organisation’s leaders will need to be proactive in fostering a culture where employees are receptive to criticism, and where feedback is valued and seen as an essential part of helping the company and its solutions succeed.

From the R&D team to department heads, we ensure that all employees understand the importance of actively addressing feedback, and that this is seen to be a priority from the management. Our own efforts in this regard are perhaps most clearly demonstrated in the anecdote that the company’s Chairman spends a couple of hours every day reading through user comments and enquiries.

3. Create clear lines of communications

Of course, it’s also important to ensure that customers and internal staff are able to share their comments easily. Aside from emails, our teams also visit end customers from time to time to get them to share their comments and address any issues they might have, allowing our team to gather feedback directly from the ground; we find that this also helps to encourage our users to share thoughts that they may not have penned in written feedback.

Similarly, our employees are encouraged to use email or internal messaging platforms to share feedback freely, both when they have positive experiences and whenever issues arise.

4. Ensure processes are in place to action feedback

In using our own products, our R&D team is able to examine how our products function in real-world scenarios, allowing them to quickly identify issues and possible improvements, accelerating our development process.

Another possible point of failure for many businesses is that feedback can be lost down a black hole, where internal teams can decide to prioritize what they themselves deem to be important rather than addressing actionable feedback. Going back to what I mentioned earlier, all feedback is also read by the management so that they are aware of any issues that they might need to direct their team’s attention to. We also collect and log all of such feedback for internal reference.

5. Keep a close eye on competitors

One potential drawback to using only your company’s own products is that your team’s vision of the competitive landscape can become quite insular, owing to a lack of experience with the solutions offered by your competitors. The management therefore needs to ensure that the team proactively keeps itself up to date on the latest news and products on the market through thorough market research.

In this era of information overload, the difficulty is not in finding the information, but rather in ensuring that the team avoids complacency and keeps an eye on the competition to ensure that their own products are always a step ahead.